Vladimir Tarasenko has been the subject of trade speculation for several weeks. His situation took an unexpected twist as the St. Louis Blues left him exposed in the upcoming expansion draft.
Prior to the protection lists being made public on Sunday, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reported the 29-year-old right winger wouldn’t be protected. He indicated Tarasenko was disappointed and also in disbelief that general manager Doug Armstrong hasn’t moved him yet.
Rutherford cited a source claiming several teams, including the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins, were willing to acquire the full remaining value ($7.5 million annual cap hit through 2022-23) of Tarasenko’s contract. Armstrong, however, had yet to receive a worthwhile trade offer. Another source said there’s limited interest in the winger and the Blues GM was having difficulty finding trade partners.
Tarasenko’s availability in the expansion draft show the difficulty in moving a winger with a big cap hit who’s also undergone three shoulder surgeries in less than two years. It also demonstrates Armstrong’s intent to get that contract off his books.
If the Seattle Kraken select Tarasenko, the Blues could use the cap savings to re-sign pending free-agent winger Jaden Schwartz. They could also put it toward pursuing a bigger fish like Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog when the free-agent market opens on July 28.
Should the Kraken pass over Tarasenko, Armstrong could still have a chance to trade him. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Jim Thomas reports the Blues received multiple offers before the expansion draft roster freeze on Saturday. Sources told him those offers could still be on the table when the freeze lifts on Thursday.